Friday, January 25, 2013 Study Finds High Utilization of Services for Joint, Back Pain Among All Ages Osteoarthritis/joint disorders and back pain rank among the most common conditions for visits to health care providers, according to a new Mayo Clinic Proceedings study. The Mayo team used the Rochester Epidemiology Project, a unique, comprehensive medical records linkage system, to track more than 140,000 Olmsted County, Minnesota, residents who visited Mayo Clinic, Olmsted Medical Center, and other Olmsted County health care providers between January 1, 2005, and December 31, 2009. Researchers then systematically categorized patient diagnoses into disease groups. The top disease groups include: skin disorders osteoarthritis/joint disorders back problems cholesterol problems upper respiratory conditions (not including asthma) anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder chronic neurologic disorders high blood pressure headaches/migraine diabetes "Surprisingly, the most prevalent nonacute conditions in our community were not chronic conditions related to aging, such as diabetes and heart disease, but rather conditions that affect both genders and all age groups," says Jennifer St Sauver, PhD, primary author of the study. The authors say their finding of skin and back problems as major drivers of health care utilization affirms the importance of moving beyond the commonly recognized health care priorities such as diabetes, heart disease, or cancer. "Our findings highlight opportunities to improve health care and decrease costs related to common nonacute conditions as we move forward through the changing health care landscape," they write.